Goolsbee Cites ‘Encouraging News’ in Number of Jobs Created

White House chief economist Austan Goolsbee said today’s unemployment report offers “encouraging news” on job growth and suggests that the U.S. will avoid a recession.

“All the focus has got to be how do we get the growth rate up for the second half of the year,” Goolsbee, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

The Labor Department said today that U.S. employers added a larger-than-expected 117,000 jobs in July, easing concern that economic growth is about to stall. The unemployment rate unexpectedly fell 0.1 percentage point to 9.1 percent.

“It’s pure relief,” Mark Zandi, economist for Moody’s Analytics, said in a telephone interview. “I think it indicates the economy’s just going to skirt recession.”

Zandi said he sees the economy rebounding to a growth rate of 3 percent to 4 percent by “the fourth quarter and into next year.”

Allen Sinai, chief global economist at the research firm Decision Economics Inc. in New York, also called the jobless numbers “a relief.”

Even so, they “don’t suggest a strong rebound in the second half, and that will prove disappointing to the White House and the Federal Reserve,” Sinai said in a telephone interview.

‘Faster Growth’ Needed

Goolsbee, on his last day at the White House before returning to his teaching position at the University of Chicago, said in a White House blog post that while the “better than expected report is welcome news, the unemployment rate remains unacceptably high and faster growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the downturn.”

The U.S. economy has added 2.4 million jobs in the past 17 months, he told Bloomberg Television.

“Those are not the things that a double-dip recession looks like,” he said.

To boost the economy, President Barack Obama is pushing Congress to adopt a package of trade accords with South Korea, Panama and Colombia, overhaul patent laws to encourage entrepreneurs and extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, among other steps.

“It’s still a call to action,” Goolsbee said. “It still says we have a long way to go. Let’s do some things that make people feel better.”

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